By: Kyle Sumner
According to traditional Christian thought, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus lays out a framework of sacrificial love for both God and neighbor. The Gospels of the New Testament are centered on the idea of a God who forsook Heaven to dwell among and restore a fallen creation. Rather than using power to rule in a top-down fashion, God took the form of a servant and chose to embrace the brokenness of the world. Biblical restoration, in essence, starts from the bottom up. This view of the biblical narrative supports a theology of liberation that has influenced black, feminist, womanist, and queer theologies in recent history. This view of a Messiah who stands in solidarity with the oppressed and marginalized has provided a foundation for many human rights campaigns and social justice issues, but many theologians who claim to be motivated by a God of liberation have largely glazed over issues of animal exploitation. This lack of concern for the non-human animal world has caused me to ask quite a few questions: Are animals to be considered fellow Creatures deserving of respect? Does a faith that is rooted in the life and teachings of Jesus demand of us a new way of living in relation to non-human animals? Is it possible for one to consider ones self on the side of the oppressed if they consume the flesh of those they seek to liberate? In order to answer these questions we must first look at Jesus’ unique relationship with food.
Our Identity as Relational Beings: a posthumanist response to claims of exploitation in the story of creation
By: Kyle Summer
It is often argued that the creation stories in the Hebrew Bible lay out a framework in which humans are given permission from God to do what they please with the rest of the created world. The Bible convincingly serves as a means of justification for the mistreatment and exploitation of non-human animals as well as a lack of overall concern for environmental degradation. Some prominent thinkers often point a blaming finger towards the creation accounts presented to us in Genesis to illuminate the origins of animal and environmental exploitation. Though the majority of these critiques come from a misunderstanding of certain themes that occur in the first chapter of Genesis (i.e. Image of God, dominion, etc.), the second chapter of Genesis provides us with a sound argument against such claims. The response to the charge that the creation accounts found in Genesis are the primary cause of animal exploitation and environmental degradation is one that can be found in almost every commentary that exists on the book of Genesis. Their brief mentions of human/non-human relationships, however, are often eclipsed by their focus on the fall of humanity. This is unfortunate because such a primary focus on the human relationship with the self, as opposed to the human relationship with the other, is far outside of the intentions of the created order and is precisely where the subjugation and exploitation of the non-human world finds its beginning. Speciesism, which Peter Singer defines as “a prejudice or attitude of bias in favor of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species” (Singer 2009, 6), is something that is a result of human kind disobeying God and taking things into their own hands rather than a God-given right, as many suggest. This study of Genesis 2:4b-3:24 will serve to expose humanity’s distortion of God’s desired relational priority which ultimately results in chaos and disunity between the human and non-human world.
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